History of Arab navigation in the Indian Ocean

Aleem, A Anwar (1973) History of Arab navigation in the Indian Ocean. MBAI Special Publication dedicated to Dr. N K Panikkar (2). pp. 255-269.


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The paper describes a brief history of the Arab navigation based on the original Arabic sources from the 9th century onwards. The old literature indicates that the Arabs had a good knowledge of the wind-directions, currents and tides. They also knew the most favourable seasons for sailing from the different ports. The Arabs described the reversing currents in the North Indian Ocean and made several interesting observations on bioluminescence, discoloration of sea water, etc. They also made references on the light houses at the entrance of Persian Gulf and on the eddies, ascending currents and cyclonic winds. Arab navigation in the Indian Ocean had deep connections with the Indian and Persian nautical traditions. These probably dates back to the first century when the Sanskrit " Jataka Mala " ( maritime code ) was written. The highly cultivated knowledge of the Arabs on nautical matters could be attributed to their knowledge of the stars, their eagerness to undertake extensive voyages and their desire to translate the relevant works in other languages into Arabic. The impact of nautical traditions of the Arabs on the Portuguese and Turkish navigations has been of considerable value.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Arab navigation; Indian Ocean
Subjects: Oceanography
Divisions: CMFRI-Cochin > Fishery Environment
Depositing User: Geetha P Mrs
Date Deposited: 18 Aug 2010 06:21
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2015 15:17
URI: http://eprints.cmfri.org.in/id/eprint/2469

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